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Graduate Program |NRC Rankings: Explanation and Details

PeopleNational Research Council’s (NRC) report A Data-Based Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs in the United States, released in September 2010, examined more than 5,000 doctoral programs at 212 universities. It did not provide simple ranks in the “1,2,3”-style, which have long been criticized for reducing the assessment of programs, with all their complexities, to a single number.  NRC instead provided a range of rankings, within which a program would fall with 90 percent certainty.  Moreover, it generated two overall rankings (“R Rankings” and “S Rankings”). For R Rankings, the faculty, in small samples, was asked to directly rank programs.  For S Rankings, 20 NRC identified criteria were weighted based on input from a faculty survey and then data from scholarly databases and institutional questionnaires were used to generate the ranks. NRC also provided raw data it used for its calculations.

This overview highlights only the most salient points, especially those needed to understand the rankings presented below.  Please refer to the NRC website for a complete explanation of the methodology and comprehensive data on rankings.

Our program was ranked among the very best communications programs, as the following overall rankings show. 

R Rankings
NRC ranks our department 2 at the 5th percentile point and 57 at the 95th percentile point.

Only five programs had a better rank than us at the 5th percentile point – Stanford, comm (1), U. of Texas, journalism (1), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, comm & rhetoric (1), U. of Miami, comm (1), and Rutgers, comm, info & lib (1).  A total of ten programs had rank 2, including us.

Only five programs received a better rank than us at the 95th percentile point – U. of Penn, comm (44), Penn State, comm arts & sciences (50), Michigan State, comm (54), Univ of Kentucky, comm (56), and University of Georgia, mass comm (56)

When both percentile ranks are considered together for programs with rank 1 and 2 at the 5th percentile point and the top shots conceded to programs with rank 1, even when their range of rankings is wider, only 7 programs have better ranks than us – Stanford, comm (1-61), U. of Texas, journalism (1-69), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, comm & rhetoric (1-72), U. of Miami, comm (1-82), Rutgers, comm, info & lib (1-83), U. of Penn, comm (2-44), and Penn State, comm arts & sciences (2-50).

S Rankings
NRC ranks our department 6 at the 5th percentile point and 19 at the 95th percentile point.

Only five programs had a better rank than us at the 5th percentile point – Stanford, comm (1), U. of Penn, comm (1), U. of Wisconsin, mass comm (1), Michigan State, comm (1), Cornell, comm (3), Ohio State, comm (3), and U. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, speech comm (4).  A total of 4 programs had rank 6, including us.

Only seven programs received a better rank than us at the 95th percentile point – Stanford, comm (3), U. of Penn, comm (5), U. of Wisconsin, mass comm (6), U. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, speech comm (10), Ohio State, comm (10), Michigan State, comm (11), and Cornell, communication (18).

When both percentile ranks are considered together for programs with rank 1 and 2 at the 5th percentile point, only 7 programs have better ranks than us – Stanford, comm (1-3), U. of Penn, comm (1-5), U. of Wisconsin, mass comm (1-6), Michigan State, comm (1-11), Cornell, comm (3-14), Ohio State, comm (3-10), and U. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, speech comm (4-10).

Raw Numbers
In addition to composite ranks, NRC also provided raw numbers they used for their calculations.

Here are some highlights:
8th rank: publications per faculty
9th rank: citations per publication
1st rank: percentage of international students

The NRC report (available online) presents a wealth of data, which invites in-depth analysis.  When you look at this data, you will see that we figure among the very best programs in almost any comprehensive analysis.